Whether you call it Christmas, Crimbo, Xmas, or like me Crimble, there is no denying that there is something simply electric about this time of the year. Lights twinkling in every window, songs played in stores mercifully switching from Westlife to Wizzard and the opportunity to indulge in all things bad for you without an ounce of guilt *washes down steak pie with a pint of mulled cider*. This Christmas, however, it has taken me a significant amount of time to get into the festive spirit, even witnessing a 15 strong group of lads dressed as Mrs, yes Mrs, Clause board a bus outside my house did not do the trick. In an attempt to ditch the ‘Bah Humbug’ and return to my usual jolly disposition this week, in the run up to Christmas, I embarked on a merry quest, submerging myself in all things fun and festive...
Just as a foetus needs a hospitable environment to flourish at Christmastime I need my surroundings to be so very festive that they literally wrestle me to the ground, forcing the season's jolliness upon me. Although my Mother had adorned the house in her standard traditional (and not so traditional) green, red and gold decorations my bedroom was yet to undergo a Christmas makeover. And so up went the fairy lights, baubles and faux snow, on went Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas album and out of me came a teeny bit of festive cheer. It didn't stop there though, oh no, being one of the unfortunate handful that had to work up until 5pm Friday 23rd December I set about making my office residence into a Winter Wonderland, tinsel draped over the computer screen and a hand-crafted Christmas cat on a stick, as you do. Jingle all the bloody way.
The obligatory wrapping of Christmas prezzies, or prizes if you will, is usually undertaken hurriedly on Crimble Eve following the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol which will almost certainly result in me falling into the tree with bits of Cellotape in my hair as I try, ever so quietly, to place the bundles of joy at it's trunk. "What's the issue with that?" I hear you cry. The issue, my dears, is that I am the world's best present buyer. Yep. Being a true lover of giving over receiving (HOW am I single?) I put a lot of thought into my gifts and as my family, friends and ex-beau's will testify I tend to do a ruddy great job. So handing out prezzies that house a faint aroma of stale vodka and look as though Stevie Wonder has had a go at wrapping them simply does not do justice. This year I vowed to break this tradition and armed with foil wrapping, bows and string I set aside an evening to get creative in a Christmas stylee and low and behold a merry miracle happened. I produced presents so prettily parceled that they look almost too good to tear open. Festive fail?
'You Were Handsome, You Were Pretty, Queen Of New York City...'
As if tinseling your house to high heaven wasn't enough, at Christmas we insist on decorating ourselves top-to-toe in festive fashions. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a spot of gaudy gear at this time of year, but I cannot help but feel a little overwhelmed by the Winter Wonderland inspired woolens in every shop, the blinging beauty recommendations in every magazine and the novelty nightwear that has accumulated in my PJ drawer over the past decade. Instead I prefer to take the 'less-is-more' approach to my seasonal style adding a touch of twinkle to my talons with Barry M nail paint, some Santa swagger to my outfit with a jolly vintage jumper and a load of ho ho ho! to my headgear with a Christmas cracker crown. Standard.
'You Will Get A Sentimental Feeling, When You Hear...'
I don't know about you but I simply cannot get into Christmas spirit until I have heard my favourite festive tracks. Nowt puts a cheesy grin on my face, a spring in my step and gets me in the mood for celebration like Phil Spector's playlist on full whack, Mariah declaring that I'm all she wants for Christmas or Sir Elton inviting me to Step into Christmas with him (apparently the admission's free?!). Although missing most of his teeth and being off of his tits for the entire song, and let's face it probably his entire life, Shane Macgowan is not exactly the epitome of Crimble however, The Pogues Fairytale of New York is most definitely my tune of choice. Forget your peace and love to all soppiness, what better denotes Christmas than a bittersweet song tracing a couple's argument over their youthful dreams being crushed by alcoholism and drug addiction on Christmas Eve? Apart from Justin Bieber's 'Mistletoe'? I joke. Kind of.
'So If You Really Love Christmas, C'Mon And Let It Snow...'
Growing up, my siblings and I would tuck into bed on Christmas Eve and without fail on would go Home Alone, then after it's release Home Alone 2 and finally into my late teens, after stumbling in from the pub, Elf. As much as these films are lovingly etched into my childhood Yuletide routine since slowly growing into fully-fledged, somewhat vertically challenged adult, one flick now rules the roost. That film is Love Actually. Now as you may have come to realise I am not the girliest of girls and detest having to acknowledge that I may have this thing, buried deep down, they call emotion but this film is just too bloody uplifting to ignore. It has it all folks, life and death, lust and love, lies and honesty, and most importantly, Liam Neeson - OOOOFF. I think my reason for loving the film so much despite it's outward namby-pamby image is down to one solitary line that, for me, sums up what this season is should be about.
'because if you can't say it at Christmas when can you say it eh?'
And it's true. So grab that person and tell them you're sorry you acted a knob, that you forgive them for smashing your favourite mug or simply that you love them wholeheartedly because life really is stupidly short. Just do yourself a favour and make sure the person in question feels the same way otherwise it's awfully cringe.
'Christmastime, Mistletoe & Wine...'
Last, but by no means least, is my most beloved Christmas tradition, the piss up. Everybody seems to let their hair down in the run up to Crimble and there are gatherings galore meaning that I get to spend quality time with all of my VIP's. Whether dinner and a chin wag, a random rave-up in Essex or an all-dayer down the Lane my besties know how to celebrate the season in style. It's a time to push aside all that has gone wrong, rejoice in everything that went so very right and raise a glass to a bright and shiny new year ahead of us - as my sister from another mister always says 'this time next year Lau!'. 2011 will be the first time in a decade I'll be staying at home with the fam on Xmas Eve no doubt wearing a onesie, munching on cheese and crackers and sipping on tea with milk (laid back) whilst watching an epic 'Enders on the telebox. A far cry from my wild nights falling in at 3am and being too hungover to eat my festive feast I know, but as my immediate family has decreased in size over the last two years not only has Christmas become a more emotional affair it has reigned me in and focused me on the season's true meaning: Family. I know everybody thinks they have the most incredible relatives in the world but I really really do and I am so very grateful for each and every one of them, those present in body and those in spirit.
For this reason I would like to dedicate this post to my wonderful Grandparents, Christina and Gerry Griffin, who are sadly not with us this year but will most certainly be knocking back a Fosters and a cheeky Sherry from their arm chairs in the sky. I love you.
Merry Christmas Everyone!